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A senior executive's guide to managing knowledge

By Cranfield School of Management

senior executive

Knowledge management can help employees improve, innovate and direct organisations, but it’s an underappreciated practice which is generally approached ineffectively.

This blog post encourages businesses to nurture a culture of knowledge management in which staff feel comfortable sharing ideas in the knowledge their thoughts are being captured. However, for this to work in the smartest way, individuals need to work according to their area of practice while recognising and acting according to:
  • Their unique specialism
  • The role their specialism plays in the wider business
  • How their specialism works in relation to other specialists.

This is illustrated in more detail in our knowledge management matrix, which you can view in this article.

This blog post will focus on how senior executives can streamline output in relation to this model. If this is not your area of practice you may wish to read how functional managersfront line managers or technical specialists can contribute according to their unique domain.


Contribute from the top

Addressing strategic direction is the essential focus for senior executives. As they are positioned to exploit potential and set conditions for the flow of knowledge, their prime activity should be to leverage external knowledge, make informed judgments on trends and communicate information which is critical to organisational success.

As an example, senior executives would need to:
  • Generate information on future possibilities and involve managers in the strategic debate

  • Use their visibility to exploit knowledge within the organisational culture

  • Generate maximum impact by understanding how other specialist functions work

  • Understand other specialist functions to direct their time to generate maximum impact.

It’s worth noting that in order to achieve this, senior executives need to:
  • Appreciate the value of knowledge management and orchestrate a culture in which it is prioritised

  • Work appropriately with staff across the organisation to drive the smartest output.

Above all they need to develop an external perspective to help them think and act outside the box to be able to influence others who are positioned to take action. This blog post contains tips on how to develop a personal external perspective.


A smart way to work

Once a culture that nurtures knowledge management is in place, individuals need to recognise their role within it. This will help them share information in a relevant manner which will streamline conduct and generate the most productive results. The knowledge management matrix is a useful tool which can help professionals reach this point as it outlines how connections between specialists can be used to the greatest advantage.



Cranfield School of Management offers General Management programmes which assist managers at key transition points into wider roles in your leadership career, helping you to transition smoothly and to have more impact, more quickly.

Join managers from a diverse range of industries to learn from each other and manage your organisation's knowledge sharing.  

Tags: Cranfield School of Management, exec-feature, developing leadership, executive development, general management, leadership capability, share knowledge, knowledge management